Snow favors all winter sports in north, primarily hiking in south


VISITORS TO THE NORTH WOODS should watch for pine grosbeaks at fruit sources, gritting on roadways, eating tree buds and seeds, or at backyard feeders. - Photo by Ryan Brady VISITORS TO THE NORTH WOODS should watch for pine grosbeaks at fruit sources, gritting on roadways, eating tree buds and seeds, or at backyard feeders. - Photo by Ryan Brady It has been a rough couple of weeks with some areas of the north having temperatures that plummeted to lows of minus 25 some days.

The frigid temperatures eased over the weekend, providing more friendly conditions for those that work and play outside.

Snow depths in the Northwoods vary from 6 to 10-plus inches, making the crosscountry ski trails a little thin yet, and snowmobile trails even more so.

Snowmobile trails are open or partially open in the northern tier of counties with conditions fair to good on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report.

Cross-country ski trails conditions range from fair to good to very good in roughly the northern third of the state.

The Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit Zillmer trails were packed for the first time Jan. 3, and have about a 1- to 2-inch base but not enough to set track.

The entire 1.6 K man-made snow loop at the Lapham Peak Unit is now completed and groomed regularly for both skate and classic skiing and conditions are good.

Ice conditions are becoming more stable and there have been some ice anglers braving the cold.

Ice reports in the north are averaging around 8 to 12 inches but always remember that ice thicknesses can vary and slush is being found on some northern lakes. A few permanent shacks have started to be placed out.

Most southern lakes now have enough ice to walk on and ice fish. Lake Mendota and Monona in Madison froze over the last week of December.

It’s a good idea to wear traction devices as most ice doesn’t have enough snow cover to provide traction.

The ice fishing season has begun on Lake Winnebago, with perch, white bass and bluegills hitting on jigs near the bottom.

A few gun deer hunters also braved the cold over the holidays chasing antlerless deer in the farmland zone.

Bow season closed Sunday, Jan. 7. Deer have been moving more during the day due to the cold nights.

A few bucks have dropped antlers.

Trapping for otters, muskrats and coyotes is in full swing with furs turning to a prime winter condition.

Pheasant hunters had some hunting opportunities the end of December with the Game Farm releasing birds between Christmas and New Year’s; however, the season is now closed.

One upside of the cold and snow is that they have brought backyard feeders to life.

Pine siskins are plentiful in many regions, mixed with some common redpolls all the way to our southern border.

Pine grosbeaks have been showing fairly well across the Northwoods. Snowy owls remain widespread with sightings in all but nine of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Search the DNR website for “snowy owl” for details.

In the south with the lack of snow hikes can still be made without much added effort.


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